More than ten days ago, word broke that Los Angeles Clippers big man Montrezl Harrell left the NBA’s bubble in Orlando to tend to a personal matter. As the team’s first seeding game approaches on Thursday against the Los Angeles Lakers, however, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports brings word that Harrell will not be available to play, with the addendum that it is “unclear” when Harrell will be back in Orlando with the Clippers.
According to the report, Harrell has tested negative for COVID-19 on a daily basis since leaving Orlando and, if that continues, his quarantine period could be quite short upon his return. Still, the Clippers are already without Lou Williams for the opener against the Lakers as a result of his 10-day quarantine, and it will be interesting to see how Doc Rivers and company approach the near term.
From a big-picture standpoint, the Clippers won’t be playing with a tremendous level of urgency in the early portion of the NBA’s restart, simply because the team is already in prime position to make a deep run in the postseason. L.A. is viewed as a high-level title contender and, while the seeding games can be used to fine tune in advance of the playoffs, Harrell and Williams will be needed for the long haul.
Harrell, who is set to enter unrestricted free agency at the conclusion of the 2019-20 season, averaged 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game prior to the NBA’s hiatus. He is a leading candidate for the league’s Sixth Man of the Year award this season. Presumably, with Ivica Zubac getting back into shape following a bout with COVID-19, minutes should be plentiful for Joakim Noah.